Welsh team enter robotic craft in transatlantic race

A robotic sailing boat developed by scientists at Aberystwyth University is to take part in a race across the Atlantic.

ThePintawill join seven other robotic vessels (one of which pictured left) in October to undertake an estimated three month crossing. The team behind it hope to prove the potential for robotic craft to undertake research in far-flung reaches of the globe.

The boat is a smaller, cheaper version of a more elaborate robotic boat,Beagle B, and is being used to prove that the onboard technology works. If it manages to cross from the Portuguese coast to the Caribbean the scientists who built it hope to riskBeagle B, which cost £40,000, on a long-distance journey.

Mark Neal, of Aberystwyth University, told the Times’ science correspondent, “This is the first time anybody has attempted to sail across any ocean with an automated boat. The big issue in robotics at the moment is longevity and flexibility in a complicated environment.

“Something that can survive for two to three months completely unassisted while doing something interesting is a major challenge. If it does get there I will be seriously cheerful. It will open up all the oceans to environmental monitoring by robots.”

Pinta, which is expected to average about 2.5 knots on the trip, uses solar panels to provide the power to operate a robot arm on the tiller and a servos to trim the sail. Solar panels would provide too little power to run an engine and batteries would run out in days or hours.

See the full story at Times Online